What's in a Name?
I hate zucchini. There is really nothing I like about it. It’s relatively flavorless, uninteresting, and takes over an entire garden. Zucchini gives all other squash a bad name. For the best in squash – head out to a local farmers market and check out the huge selection of winter squash.
A couple weekends ago, while visiting Henry’s Organic Farm at the Evanston Farmer’s Market, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered mini- 6-inch butternut squash. These are the real deal. These deep orange mini-squashes are easy to cook, and tasty to eat. After slicing them in half and scooping out the seeds, I leave them in their shell, and intensify their flavor by roasting them in a hot oven. When I take them out of the oven I spread them with Kerrygold Irish Butter and a drizzle of raw honey from the Big Bowl hives at Heritage Prairie Farm.
Another delicious winter squash is the Delicata squash. Its lovely flavor and pale yellow flesh is sweet and delicate, hence the name Delicata. As with most winter squash, I enjoy roasting them in their flesh with good butter, salt and pepper, and a little bit of honey or real maple syrup.
At Big Bowl, we use Japanese Kabocha squash, AKA pumpkin squash, for our seasonal squash soup. Kabocha is a member of the pumpkin family. It is high in fiber and natural sugars with a rich flavor making it a guest favorite. This season, when making pumpkin pie, try substituting Kabocha in place of canned pumpkin. Simply roast in the skin with the same drizzle of butter and honey, puree the flesh and use just like the canned stuff – only better.
I also have a soft spot for the New England Blue Hubbard squash. It’s not uncommon for these to be quite large. I once held one that was 60 pounds – my dad took the picture to prove it! It wasn’t the best tasting squash but it sure was fun to watch it grow and see my dad try to bust open its thick flesh on the garage floor.
This time of year, I crave the sweet flavors of winter squash. Now is the time to buy it, and if you store it in a cool place it’s sure to last throughout the winter. This is the last weekend for outdoor markets in Chicago and there are lots of great deals on a big variety of winter squash.
And don’t waste your pumpkin seeds!
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin seeds:
1 ½ cups Pumpkin Seeds
2 tbl Brown Sugar
¼ tbl Cumin
1 tbl Worcestershire
1 tbl Melted butter
Pinch of cayenne
Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.